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Rock Garden: A place where creativity meets trash

Nek Chand Rock Garden is unique — a fantastical, 25-acre sculpture garden exposes what a man can do with a vivid imagination. A self-taught artist Nek Chand Saini has created a beautiful surreal fantasy with waste materials like concrete and steel drums to light switches, broken bathroom sinks and bicycle frames. Highlights include a legion of dancing girls made from broken glass bangles and a graceful arcade of towering arches with dangling rope swings.

He took time out from his busy life as a roads inspector of the Public Works Department in Punjab from 1951 and started collecting material like broken switches, tile pieces, bangles, mirror pieces, stones, and other reusable industrial and home wastes. In 1957 he started this project alone in the jungle by clearing a patch near Sukhna Lake, Chandigarh. He kept his eccentric masterpieces away from everyone’s eye. He spent almost 20 years personally creating more than 2000 sculptures using stones, debris and other discarded junk. Waste like broken crockery, electrical fittings, glass bangles, bathroom tiles, wash basins and bicycle frames were used to make mosaic sculptures of men, women, animals and gods.

But one can never hide their creativity and talent and one-day authorities came to know about this. As he worked on a land where no one was permitted to build so his work was in danger and during these 18 years his creativity was spread in 13 acres. Somehow Nek Chand managed to get public support and authorities realized the worth of his project and came on board, helping him to expand the site to its current proportions.

In 1986 Rock garden was inaugurated and designation of Nek Chand was changed from Road Inspector in Public Work Department to Sub-divisional Engineer of Rock Garden. Since then millions of people have visited this iconic place and this place was further developed in 14 acres with gateways, swings, waterfall, porches, fun house of mirror and a museum. This masterpiece houses around 5000 sculpture like animals, human statue, bridges etc. It starts with a beautiful landscape of nature and some statues (you’ll find a tree in every corner). 

The broken tiles and switches on the walls are adding more charm to this place. As you move ahead you’ll be astonished by the collection of waste material. The stone pebbles and rocks in your pathway will take to the other world and be prepared as you’ve to walk a lot. After a continuous walk of 5-10 minutes, you’ll near a waterfall that was later added by authorities to beautify the place. This area also provides places to sit so that you reenergize yourself and continue the walk.

The whole Rock Garden is divided into three phases. The first phase shows the complete use of waste material. The second phase is all about stone-art and includes a waterfall, trees and other landscape. The third and the last phase is a combination of first two phases but still shows you a new and different site. In this last phase, you can see very grand and attractive high archways which are 25 feet tall. You can sit on swings on archways, see the house of mirror that changes shapes and sizes in the mirror, camel ride and a canteen.

You can reach this place by train, bus or flight direct to Chandigarh. Next one has to take auto-rikshaw or direct buses from Sector-17 bus stand. There is no particular season to visit this place, avoid coming here in summer as there are no shades in Rock Garden. There is fixed timing to visit this place i.e. 9 am to 7 pm and its open all days.